Last week I stopped in at a fund raising auction for the Minnesota Valley Chapter of the Audubon Society. Even though I am not a member of this chapter, I am a member of the St Paul Chapter, I wanted to help them raise money for the education programs which they sponsor at the Minnesota Valley Refuge. This refuge is the closest NWR to my home and I spend a lot of time photographing there so I wanted to give something back. I did not buy anything at the auction but I did donate a framed print for them to sell.
The Minnesota Valley NWR consists of approximately 14,000 acres of habitat that spans 99 miles of the Minnesota River. The refuge is broken into eight different units. The unit that I spend most of my time at is the Long Meadow Lake Unit.
Long Meadow Lake is comprised of 2400 acres of Minnesota River floodplain. This unit includes the Bass Ponds, which were once used for breeding fish to stock Minnesota Lakes, and the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, which stands derelict like a ghost from the past spanning the river. Long Meadow also includes the spacious refuge visitors center.
One of the cool things about this refuge is that parts of it are located in the middle of the Twin Cities. You can see from the pictures above skyscrapers peaking over the skyline of the trees at Long Meadow. This refuge is only blocks away from the famous Mall of America. So if you ever come to the Twin Cities for a visit do yourself a favor and skip the shopping and walk a couple of blocks to the refuge and get a taste of the real Minnesota.